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~Pooja Chakrabarty

Firemouth: The Beautiful Cichlid

The red color on its throat intensifies when this fish is excited and gives it the name: Firemouth. This medium-sized cichlid is found in the shallow, stagnant waters of Guatemala, and of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. This tall and many-colored fish tends to be quite aggressive.

Firemouths are tall and rather flat with large heads and foreheads that curve a little around the eye region. Like among the blue acaras, firemouth males have more pointed and longer fins than the females. A more mature fish may have a slightly bent tail fin.

The firemouth is called by this name because of the red coloration of its throat and breast area. When defending itself, it tends to inflate its throat area, and in so doing further enhances the lovely red coloration. Like the Siamese Fighting Fish a firemouth tends to flare its gills in aggression.

This beautiful cichlid grows upto 5.5", and needs a 35 gallon tank, a pH ranging from 6.5 to 8.5, and a temperature between 75 F and 82 F.

Firemouths are not too easy to breed as they do not pair up easily

Firemouths are not too easy to breed as they do not pair up easily. A pH of 7 or higher, and a temperature of 80 F would prepare the ground for them to breed.

It is made up of a wide variety of colors. Its base color is a bluish grey, and this has a purple sheen. Its belly ranges from yellowish green to orange. There may be a number stripes along its sides, and a golden black spot both on the tail fin and behind its eyes. The females however are not as colorful.

These territorial fish need hiding places which may be prepared by placing rocks and plants in the aquarium. In order to breed these fish like to have a spawning ritual where they swim and display themselves. For this you will need to provide enough open space.

These fish will accept all kinds of food ranging from pellets and flakes to frozen and live food. Apart from providing them with a good filter and seeing to the cleanliness of the water, these are easy and relatively peaceful cichlids to keep. You should keep them with other peace-loving fish, or you could keep several pairs of firemouths in a large tank. Avoid keeping them with smaller species as they may just eat them up.

Firemouths are found in the waters of Guatemala, and in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, in shallow waters, which could be cloudy and stagnant.

These egg-layers are capable of laying upto 500 eggs at a time on a clean rock surface. The females brood over the eggs while the males protect their family. The fry grow rapidly, and a pair of firemouths can breed up to 5 times a year.  They can live for about 10 or 15 years.

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